Regardless of how successful a person might consider himself in getting away with his adventure into sin, he could learn a few things from David. First, however, we must note Numbers 32:23: "But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out." Interestingly, the context of this verse is a warning to those who may not be faithful to their words of promise.
Overall, this story is a quick study into cause and effect. First, it teaches that, regardless of one's status, adultery cannot be committed without damaging relationships anymore than murder can be committed without damaging relationships. It does not matter whether the perpetrator is a prince or pauper. The only variable is the speed with which the effect takes place. We should never forget the warning given in Genesis 2:17: "In the day you eat of [the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil] you shall surely die." The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) no matter which commandment is broken.
Second, besides death, sin produces two effects that may also manifest slowly:
1. A damaged relationship with God. Isaiah 59:1-2 shows that sin creates division between God and us because of the breach of trust. Sin is a breaking of the terms of the covenant agreed on by both God and us. After committing a sin like adultery, can the individual be trusted any longer? This effect is not easily seen, but God's Word nonetheless reveals it does occur. As this episode shows, with repentance and God's merciful forgiveness, the division can be healed.
2. Evil results in our lives in this world. Even with God's forgiveness, this second effect remains and must be borne by the sinner—and tragically, by those sinned against. For example, the evil effects of David's sin brought death—either directly or indirectly—to five people. It directly caused the deaths of Uriah and the newborn son of David and Bathsheba. In addition, it greatly intensified the ultimately deadly competition between Absalom, Amnon, and Adonijah, all of whom died violently. With the dishonorable example of their father before their eyes, it could only teach disrespect, even for those closest to them.
Thus, the throne fell to Solomon. He never had to live through the kind of family life that David's older children did. When he committed similar sins, he could never say that he saw his father do the same things.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment
King David's excursion into adultery reveals that, regardless of one's state in life, one cannot commit it without damaging relationships any more than murder. II Samuel 12:9-14 describes the cause-and-effect process.
Sin produces two overall effects: First, because of the breach of trust, it creates division between us and God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Second, it produces evil results in the world. Upon true repentance, God's merciful forgiveness cancels out the first. However, the second remains, and the sinner must bear it and - tragically - so must those caught within its web. As a result of David's sin, five people, including four of David's sons, died directly or indirectly: Uriah, the illegitimate baby, Absalom, Amnon, and Adonijah!
But the punishment did not end there. II Samuel 16:20-22 relates another step in the unfolding of this sin's effect:
Then Absalom said to Ahithophel, "Give counsel as to what we should do." And Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Go in to your father's concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong." So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel.
II Samuel 20:3 adds a final note on this event:
Now David came to his house at Jerusalem. And the king took the ten women, his concubines whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in seclusion and supported them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up to the day of their death, living in widowhood.
God prophesied it, and Absalom and Ahithophel used it politically to discredit David and elevate Absalom. It illustrates Absalom's disrespect for his father, which was at least partly rooted in his father's notorious sex life. Did the adultery make the concubines' lives better? "Can a man take fire to his bosom and . . . not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27). No, he cannot. Not only is he burned, but those close to him also suffer because this sin's penalty reaches out to destroy what should be very dear and cherished relationships.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)
Other commentary entries containing this verse:
2 Samuel 12:9-14